What Should Indian Students of Architecture Be Concerned About?
As of mid-December 2020, as per the Council of Architecture (CoA) there are 469 colleges of architecture sanctioned to offer B.Arch. degrees, with an allowed intake of about 24,000 students per year. Even if all colleges are not operating at full strength, that will mean about 20,000 architects will graduate every year.
The current number of registered architects as per CoA is about 1,06,000, which means the number of architectural practices is likely to be less than 20,000. How will 20,000 students per year be placed for the mandatory internships that are a part of their degree programme? Where will they find jobs?
On top of this are other concerns:
– There is no forum to represent the interests of young architects. The only national forum is Indian Institute of Architects (IIA), and less than one-third of CoA registered architects are members, a vast majority of them being over the age of 50. Young architects are not joining IIA as they do not see it as a forum useful to their concerns.
– The regulation of educational quality leaves much to be desired and is driven by a minimum standards checklist when it should be provoking excellence. Other than a superficial counting of degrees and years of experience, there are no regulatory standards for assessing faculty excellence in teaching, research or practice.
– The government is implementing a New Education Policy, which will radically shake up the regulation of professional education, but there is no clarity on a road map for moving to this new system.
– Curriculum still follows outdated modes oriented toward the architect as a heroic innovator of aesthetic form, divorced from the socio-cultural, ecological and transcendental dimensions of architecture. Students are offered little guidance on how to confront the major crises of our day: climate change, a degrading urbanism in terms of both ecology and quality of life, a rural sector that has negligible access to architectural and planning services, increasing inequality and marginalisation, and mainstream paradigms of planning that are blind to the informal sector that provides the majority of jobs and housing.
But there is hope that radical change can happen, and the lever is in demographics. With 20,000 graduates per year, those who are currently in college will become the dominant group in the profession over the next decade. If they organise, they can set the agenda for how the profession of architecture reshapes itself, defining alternative models of education and practice. To do this, they need to start thinking now about what they should be concerned about and how they should chart their agenda for a positive future.
This dialogue will put together leaders of the student community with professionals to reflect on what this future might be.